ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — Thorbjorn Olesen extended his lead to seven strokes at the Turkish Airlines Open after shooting 3-under 68 for his third round on Saturday, moving the Dane to the brink of a European Tour victory for the third straight year.
It could have been even better for Olesen, who started the day six shots clear, but he bogeyed the 18th hole for his second dropped shot of the day after driving into the rough. He was on 18-under 195 overall.
The 92nd-ranked Olesen is in line for the biggest payday of his career, with the winner earning nearly $1.2 million. His other three European Tour wins have come after holding the 54-hole lead.
Five players – David Lipsky (66), Bernd Wiesberger (66), Haotong Li (68), Matteo Manassero (68) and David Horsey (68) – were tied for second place at Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort, which is hosting the first of three Finals Series events on the tour.
Olesen’s form in Turkey is surprising, given he had made the weekend at just four of his last 13 events. His last win was at the Dunhill Links Championship in October 2015.
Returning after shooting 62 on Friday, Olesen birdied the second and sixth holes before picking up more shots with three straight birdies from No. 14.
“It’s obviously difficult to try and keep making birdies after a day like yesterday,” Olesen said. “I thought I did very well mentally. I was very patient out there. I felt like I was playing some great golf, a lot of good iron shots.”
It’s the biggest third-round lead on the European Tour this season.
“I have to be aggressive tomorrow,” Olesen said. “I have never had a seven-shot lead so it does feel a bit weird but that is why it’s so important to be aggressive and see if I can make a few birdies. That’s the key.”
With a win, Olesen will move into the top 10 of the Race to Dubai rankings. There are two more events in the Finals Series – the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.